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December 13, 2016 Comments (0) International Education

Gallup, Lumina Reveal Public Attitudes on Higher Education


Do Americans think that education beyond senior high school is vitally important, and what barriers hold a number of them back from having post-secondary degrees and certificates? The Indiana-based Lumina Foundation partnered with Gallup to ask 1,001 Americans these and other questions. The poll was launched February 5, reports the Fort Mill Times, also it shows that Americans take higher education seriously.

The poll of adults over 18, including houses with landlines and cell-only households, demonstrated that no more than 3% are willing to say that education past high school is not important for financial security. Those without any education past high school often consider trying to go back for more certification, even in later life.

Those respondents who do not have a certificate or degree beyond senior high school agree that if they did, they would feel safer in their job (58 percent) as well as in their financial future (64 percent).
Within the last year, 41 percent of Americans have considered going back to school to earn a diploma or certificate, with 42 percent of those saying they\’re very likely to achieve this.

38% of Gallup’s respondents believed that higher education has gotten better in recent years. The rest were divided almost equally between believing that education quality had stayed the same or had gotten worse. They appeared to have the least faith in education innovators, since most said that traditional colleges and universities were the best.

Only 11% “strongly agreed” that online universities “offer a high quality of education.” It could be worse for online education, though, since 72% were prepared to agree to that statement with a rating of 3 or more (with 5 as the strongest agreement). By comparison, only 4% were not willing to rate agreement at 3 or more for the top quality of traditional colleges. Community colleges fared well; only 10% of respondents could not agree to our prime quality of community college as strongly a 3 or better with that scale.

Is college affordable? Americans seem to give a resounding “no.” But cost was not cited because the biggest barrier to re-enrolling as an adult. 36% rated family responsibilities as a greater barrier than cost, followed by job responsibilities because the third barrier. It might help adults re-enroll a lot if they could somehow get credit for which they had learned through experience, and 87% of Gallup’s respondents believed that it should be easy to get this credit. 75% of these said that they\’d be much more likely to go back to school, themselves, when they knew they might get experience credits.

Perhaps probably the most radical suggestion that Gallup’s respondents approved was the idea that classroom time should become flexible, with an emphasis on mastering material, not going through a full semester or year:

Seventy percent don\’t think learning should be time based and agree that if a student demonstrates they\’ve mastered class material in less than the traditional 16-week session, they should be able to get credit for the course without sitting through the entire 16 weeks.

When asked what would be the best method of getting help with the price of higher education, respondents might have had in mind their concerns about government spending. 59% strongly agreed that colleges must reduce tuition, and subsequently largest group, 46%, hoped that companies would help their employees with tuition costs. Government assistance, whether state or federal, was the only suggestion that got two-digit “strong disagree” replies. As many as 15% worry that increased federal there\’s help the wrong way to visit, compared to only 6% who didn’t like the thought of private companies helping their employees.

\”The Gallup/Lumina poll shows that the vast majority of Americans think that increasing college attainment is important, while at the same time recognizing that significant change is needed in the current system,\” said Jamie P. Merisotis, president of Lumina Foundation. \”Americans want a more accessible and affordable system better education, one that does more to acknowledge and reward the private skills, knowledge and abilities that are genuinely valued in the workplace and can be associated with future learning opportunities.\”

Lumina’s goal in commissioning the Gallup study was to find the best way to help Americans satisfy the goal of increasing higher education levels to 60% by the year 2025.

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